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Is Cuil Too Cool For School, Or Does It Still Need To Learn Some Lessons From Google?

This morning a band of ex-Google employees launched a competitive search offering called Cuil (pronounced cool). Cuil has indexed about 120 billion Web pages, which is approximately one-eighth of Google's claimed 1 trillion indexed pages. Just how useful is Cuil?

This morning a band of ex-Google employees launched a competitive search offering called Cuil (pronounced cool). Cuil has indexed about 120 billion Web pages, which is approximately one-eighth of Google's claimed 1 trillion indexed pages. Just how useful is Cuil?Lately it seems as if a new search engine is popping up every week. This week's entrant? Cuil. While I've seen some good alternatives to Google -- especially those that focus on visual search results -- it doesn't appear that the new entrants are making much of a dent in Google's massive presence on the Web.

I decided to take Cuil for a spin this morning to see just how well it stacks up to Google.

I went to It's obvious Cuil wants to be the anti-Google. Where Google's home page is all white, Cuil's is black, with just some simple text and a search box located smack in the center of the page. I am sure this design is no accident. I typed in the search query "Mesa Boogie."

Cuil returned about 200,000 results. Rather than a simple list of links, Cuil gave me three columns of results. Each column had four results in it, making for 12 search results on the first page. These results go beyond links to other Web pages. Each result displayed the name of the Web page, included an image, and had about 50 to 100 words worth of text pulled from that Web page so you know what's on it.

The results included several selections from the Mesa Boogie Web site, as well as some from a competitor, Wikipedia, a retail store, and at least one forum discussion board. One of the results was in Russian, so I pretty much discounted that one from the start.

Cuil also offers a way to explore the results by category. In this case, I could parse the results by: Instrument Amplifiers, Guitar Amplifier Tubes, Fender Amplifiers, Guitar Amplifier Manufacturers, and Members of Metallica -- perhaps the most noted users of Mesa Boogie amps. Mousing over this set of categories opened up pull-down boxes for each of the categories, showing another eight options from which to choose. The search terms found in this pull-down box were certainly relevant.

Briefly examining the second through 10th pages of results, they all looked to be about the same, providing a mix of links to actual Mesa Boogie material and other places where Mesa Boogie amps are mentioned. The only result I was really thrilled to see was an old interview with Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci, who uses and endorses Mesa Boogie amps.

There were no adds on any of the pages.

In comparison, Google's results included links to the Mesa Boogie Web site, retailers of Mesa Boogie amps, forum discussion boards, eBay auctions, and some music-related magazine Web sites. There was one ad served on the main search page. In total, Google returned 2.37 million results, 11 times what Cuil returned. Does that make one search engine more useful than the others? Not really. I don't know anyone who has the time to go through 200,000 search results, let alone 2.37 million.

If you don't know anything about Mesa Boogie, performing a blanket search such as this with either search engine is a decent starting point. You get access to information straight from the horse's mouth, as well as (what I generally believe to be more valuable) information from real people out in the world who use Mesa Boogie products.

Did either search engine outperform the other? Not in any quantifiable way. But having Google search built into my Web browser (Firefox 3), means I am pretty much going with Google for now.

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